The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and United States Secretary of State John Kerry are expected in Cairo Monday to push for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.
The latest militarised conflict to affect the Gaza Strip has so far killed at least 509 Palestinians and 20 Israelis.
Ban is expected to arrive in Egypt on Monday afternoon on the heels of a meeting in Qatar with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Ahead of their meeting Ban reiterated his call for a ceasefire and pledged to continue efforts to achieve this as he travels the region. He called for “an immediate end to the Israeli military operation in Gaza and the rocket fire by Hamas and Islamic Jihad”.
Ban decried the deaths of at least 60 people in the Gaza’s Al-Shuja’iah neighbourhood. He said: “I condemn this atrocious action. Israel must exercise maximum restraint and do far more to protect civilians.”
The UN chief also condemned the deaths of 13 Israeli soldiers, which occurred in several separate incidents, according to the Israeli Defense Forces.
Ban travelled to Kuwait City on Monday morning to meet with the Kuwaiti Emir and Foreign Minister to discuss the situation in Gaza before leaving for Cairo, reported his spokesperson.
Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shoukry met with UN Envoy for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry on Monday to discuss the crisis in Gaza.
The US State Department confirmed early on Monday that John Kerry would travel to Cairo and was scheduled to arrive late in the evening.
Kerry was overheard talking to an aide before a live interview on Sunday with US channel Fox News, saying “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation. It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation…we’ve got to get over there… I think Jon, we ought to go tonight. I think it’s crazy to be sitting around”.
When questioned about his comments he responded by saying it is “very difficult” situation” adding “It’s tough to have this kind of operation, and I reacted obviously in a way that anybody does with respect to young children and civilians. But war is tough”.
In a series of interviews conducted on Sunday Kerry reiterated Israel’s “right to defend itself” from Hamas rocket fire. He also stressed again his support for Egypt’s ceasefire proposal, which was accepted by Israel last week but rejected by Hamas that claimed it was not officially approached. He called on Hamas to “step up and be reasonable and understand that you accept a ceasefire, you save lives”.